First Syrup!

by Don 3/24/2019 8:08:00 AM

Where there is sap, surely syrup will follow at Somerskogen! The inaugural event of our new propane evaporator occurred on Friday, Mach 22nd. A few hiccups of function (not recognizing a low pressure reset, tweaking a float box to properly function and managing huge amounts of condensation) delayed the start of our evaporator until early afternoon.  Once operational, the power of a 1.2million BTU burner was realized.  We had sap boiling within 10 minutes and our first syrup made within an hour! The automatic draw off was fun to watch and we hope to include a video of its operation with our next post.

We have been getting sap flows of 0.5-0.7 gallons per tap per day. We continue to look for leaks in lines or fittings to maximize the vacuum pressure.  We know that every one inch of vacuum over 20 increases sap yield by 10%. We are not yet at that level. Many of our older fittings have micro leaks which require attention.

The forecast looks very favorable and could determine the overall success of our season.



Fall Update

by Don 11/28/2018 6:37:00 AM

    Despite no entries during the post season, Team Somerskogen has not been idle. We are in the process of upgrading equipment, repairing damage from a forest fire  and venturing into new products.  Here are a few updates:

    Our 20 year old flue pan (the first pan that holds the sap) started leaking at the end of the season, despite our best efforts to stop the constant dripping sap.  The pan was a lead-free soldered pan, whereas new models are all tig-welded  stainless steel.  A decision was made to replace our woodburning workhorse of 20 years, and upgrade to a state of the art gas-fired evaporator.  Will we miss the charm and warmth of a wood fire? Yes! Will we miss the ongoing need to cut and split wood? No!

    Trading in our woodburner, we installed a 3x10 CDL Deluxe evaporator (see pictures).  This required significant changes to our sugarhouse with new roof jacks, feeder tanks repositioned and a propane tank place near the sugarhouse, between the maple trees.

    The second major change in the sugarbush occurred May 4, 2018.  While we were out of town, a tree fell on a power line at the southern end of our property and started a fire in the dry underbrush.  An alert neighbor notified the fire department and three hours later, five fire trucks extinguished the spreading blaze that charred two acres.  

    The hardy maple trees survived, but all the sap lines were melted and destroyed.  Weeks of removal and reinstallation of new sap lines occurred over the summer and fall. The misfortune of the fire resulted in an updated tubing system  as the maple industry has evolved since the time we first installed our vacuum tubing network.

    The other big development at Somerskogen Sugarbush has been our venture into barrel-aged maple syrup.  We partnered with our new friend, Tom Slattery of JJ's Wine, Spirits and Cigars in Sioux Falls, SD to age our maple syrup in a Kentucky bourbon barrel that had high-quality bourbon  (Buffalo Trace) aged in it for 8 years. As the maple syrup went into the barrel, the aroma was nothing short of amazing! With monthly tastings, we decided the Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup was ready to be bottled after 4 months. Our allotment rapidly sold out and never made it on the website. However, in the good news department, we recently obtained two more barrels from Tom Slattery (Four Roses and Knob Creek), filled them with maple syrup and look forward to more delicious Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup in 4-6 months. Stay tuned!

    So, as you can see, we've been busy in the off-season, getting ready for Spring 2019 and hopefully, a new record amount of maple syrup.

    Thank you to all of you who read our periodic blog, spread the word about our favorite hobby and buy our maple syrup. We appreciate it!

Leaks and Laments

by Don 4/25/2018 8:27:00 AM

The much predicted snowfall left 20" of heavy snow the weekend of April 14th. We anticipated the snow cover would extend our season, by keeping our sugarbush insulated from the warming sun. However, just one week later, we were watching the snow turn to rivulets in the woods, and the sap flow reduce significantly. 

We had a minor setback the weekend of the blizzard when I walked into the sugarhouse and found a small pond of sap that had leaked out the 4x7 drop flue pan!  The entire evaporator required disassembly and "a" leak was identified.  This was patched with a liquid epoxy that can withstand 2500º F after curing.  We were able to limp through the last week of the season, but have not totally solved the problem.

We finished the season with over 400 gallons of syrup, which is only the third time in our 25 years of syruping.  We are quite pleased with the amount of syrup we can provide to anyone desires a fine product. Now in the process of cleanup, this will take several days at the "retiree pace"!

Soon we will be able to sample and bottle the first vintage of our bourbon barrel aged maple syrup.  Check back to see when this is available.

Thanks for reading our posts this year, and if you have any questions, send an email to